Read The Fox Hunt Online

Authors: Bonnie Bryant

The Fox Hunt

BOOK: The Fox Hunt
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Read all the Saddle Club books!

Horse Crazy

Horse Shy

Horse Sense

Horse Power

Trail Mates

Dude Ranch

Horse Play

Horse Show

Hoof Beat

Riding Camp

Horse Wise

Rodeo Rider

Starlight Christmas

Sea Horse

Team Play

Horse Games


Pack Trip

Star Rider

Snow Ride


Fox Hunt

Horse Trouble

Ghost Rider

Copyright © 1992 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
Cover art copyright © 1992 by George Tsui

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

“The Saddle Club” is a registered trademark of Bonnie Bryant Hiller.

“USPC” and “Pony Club” are registered trademarks of the United States Pony Clubs, Inc., at The Kentucky Horse Park, 4071 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511-8462.

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eISBN: 978-0-307-82503-2
Originally published by Bantam Skylark in June 1992
First Delacorte Ebook Edition 2012



Carole felt a terrible cringing sensation when she thought about what it was Stevie had done. Stevie’s brothers would certainly try to get back at her. It would be one thing if they put up notes in the boys’ room at school or if they short-sheeted her bed or replaced her lunch sandwich with dog food. It would be another thing altogether, however, if Stevie’s brothers decided to aim their revenge at what Stevie loved best: horseback riding. There were all kinds of things they could do that could jeopardize Stevie’s riding. The boys would know that and it would most certainly be their target. That was something Carole couldn’t let happen.

It was time for The Saddle Club to come to the rescue, even if Stevie didn’t know it.…

a smile on her face. It wasn’t easy to do under the circumstances. There she was at the dinner table, surrounded by her three brothers. They were giving her a hard time. Normally she would have given back equally, but tonight was different. Tonight her boyfriend, Phil Marston, was a dinner guest. Stevie didn’t like it when Phil saw her nastier side, though it was quite a temptation considering the ribbing the two of them were getting.

Chad, her eldest brother, had started it all.

“So, tell me, Stevie,” he’d said. “Just where are you and Phil going tonight after dinner?”

“We’re going to an organizing meeting for the mock hunt,” she’d said evenly.

“Oh, you hunt mocks?” her twin brother, Alex, had
asked. “They’ve certainly been a menace to the local farmers.”

“Alex!” Stevie had said between her teeth.

Phil had just smiled. “Not exactly, Alex,” he’d said patiently, acting as if he thought Alex really didn’t know what it meant. “It’s mock—as in pretend. It’s a pretend fox hunt being sponsored by Stevie’s Pony Club. It’s to prepare all of us for the real fox hunt that is taking place at my Pony Club.”

“Oh, right,” Chad had piped in. “That’s when everybody dresses up in red jackets and chases after foxes while yelling unintelligible things and drinking brandy from flasks, right?”

“Tallyho!” her youngest brother, Michael, contributed.

Now Stevie was fuming. There were many times in her life when she’d wished she were an only child. This was one of those times. She imagined what it would be like to have a calm, intelligent discussion of fox hunting with her parents and Phil.

“I mean, is fox meat really all that good?” Alex asked.

“Aw come on,” Chad said to him. “Haven’t you ever heard the famous description of fox hunting by Oscar Wilde, the English playwright?” Chad was in ninth grade and enjoyed showing off his superior knowledge to everybody else in the family. Alex and Michael
waited for him to continue. “He called it ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.’ ”

Michael and Alex howled with laughter.

Stevie grimaced. “Shows how much you know,” she said. “Fox hunting is an old and honorable sport. In England, where there are a lot of foxes, they’re viewed as a pest and the farmers often really do want them to be caught as long as it’s humane. Here in America, where there are just a few foxes, they are rarely caught and even more rarely killed. In fact, most hunters would be disappointed if the hounds were to catch the fox. See, we want that same fox to be available to lead us on a merry chase the next time we go fox hunting.” The instant the phrase “merry chase” left her lips, she was sorry.

“A merry chase!” Chad howled. Alex and Michael joined in. Even Stevie’s parents seemed to be having trouble keeping their faces straight. Stevie blushed, and that made her all the angrier.

It just wasn’t easy living with three brothers. That was one reason why Stevie loved horseback riding so much. She was the only one in her family who rode horses. It was a place she could be alone—or at least without her obnoxious brothers. Of course, she wasn’t completely alone on horseback. When she went riding at her nearby stable, Pine Hollow, she was usually with her best friends, Carole Hanson and Lisa Atwood, and
sometimes she was with Phil. This time, on the mock hunt and the real fox hunt, she was going to be with all of them, and she couldn’t wait.

Stevie, Lisa, and Carole were three very different girls, but they had one big thing in common: horses. In fact, they loved horses and riding so much that they had formed a club. They called it The Saddle Club. Members had to be horse crazy and they had to be willing to help one another out of all kinds of jams. Phil, who lived a few towns away and belonged to a different Pony Club, was an out-of-town member of The Saddle Club. There were a few other riders they’d met who were out-of-town members, too. There were no other riders who were horse crazy enough in Willow Creek, Virginia, where the girls lived, but that was fine with Stevie, Lisa, and Carole. The three of them had plenty of fun on their own.

“Actually, there’s a lot of misinformation around about fox hunting,” Phil said, once the laughter had quieted down. “We’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject at Cross County—that’s my Pony Club—and one thing I thought was interesting was that only the huntsman, the Master of the Hounds, and the whippers-in are doing any actual hunting. The rest of us are just along for the ride.”

“You mean you’re not armed?” Chad asked sarcastically.

“Nobody on a fox hunt is armed,” Stevie said, regaining
her composure. “See, it’s just a really good excuse for a cross-country ride with your friends over fences and through fields.”

“Right,” Phil added. “The exciting part is that you never know where the hunt is going to go. It’s not like going on a trail ride.”

Stevie couldn’t believe how polite Phil was being to her brothers. It was much more than they deserved.

“It sounds very exciting to me,” Alex said. He turned to his father. “I don’t know that we should allow Stevie to go on this thing. She’s so excitable.…”

“Ahem,” Mrs. Lake said. That was a subtle signal that Alex was pushing the boundaries. The subtlety was lost on Michael. He plowed right on ahead, turning to Alex.

“But didn’t you say that the only reason Stevie wanted to do this thing was because Phil was doing it?”

After the angry flash of red cleared through Stevie’s head, she kept herself from leaping for her little brother’s throat by imagining how much fun it would be to torture him to death. Nothing fast, just slow and really painful—in full view of all of his stuffed animals. And then, for Chad and Alex—

“Ahem!” Mr. Lake said. “I think it’s time to change the subject. In fact, if we don’t change the subject, I think I may disinvite some of my family members to the circus, which is coming to town in two weeks.” The subtlety of that remark was not lost on anybody.
There was a traveling circus that did a few days of shows in all the nearby towns every year, and it was a particular favorite of the Lake family. Stevie’s brothers were silenced quickly.

“Oh, right, the Emerson Circus,” Phil said. “It’s coming to Cross County soon, too. It’s a great circus. My favorite part is always the clowns.”

“Not me. I like the trained animals,” Stevie said. “Especially the horses.”

“Anyone for dessert?” Mrs. Lake asked brightly.

“I’ll help clear,” Stevie said.

“My, she’s being domestic!” Chad teased. “Looks like she wants to show off for somebody. I wonder who?”

When Stevie was pretty sure Phil couldn’t see, she gave Chad her nastiest look. “I’m just going to help Mom because it’s your night to do it, and last time you cleared, you broke a glass. Remember?”

Before he could answer, she was at the sink and had the water turned on. That made enough noise so that she could grumble and nobody could hear her. At least Phil couldn’t hear her.

The rest of dinner was relatively uneventful, primarily because Chad got three phone calls from girls in his class and spent most of dessert promising to call them back later. He gobbled down his pudding, then dashed for the phone to make good on his promises.

Stevie sighed with relief. He was always the ring leader of her brothers. As long as he wasn’t around, things might be a little bit quiet.

BOOK: The Fox Hunt
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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